Good golfing

Senior PGA tournament at Oak Hill benefits Rochester region



Kate Melton

A big part of the benefit to the Rochester region and Oak Hill Country Club in hosting the eightieth Senior PGA (Professional Golfers Association) tournament May 21–26 can’t be measured in dollars and cents—it’s priceless.

Not only will there be spectators out on the course cheering on the biggest names in senior golf, people from all over the world will be watching the event on television and they’ll likely be wondering what the city of Rochester is like, what the business climate is like, and what the city’s other attractions are, too. People may want to visit Rochester or play golf here because of it. Businesses may want to move here because of it.

It’s not often the city of Rochester gets to display its attributes to an international viewing audience, but, as Kevin Horey, Oak Hill’s general chair of the event explains,  the PGA puts Rochester on the world stage.

“With all due respect to the Amerks, Red Wings, and RIT hockey, this is a big league, major league event,” says Horey, who has worked on several of the major tournaments Oak Hill has hosted throughout the years. It’s a big job, too. Horey oversees some thirty committees dedicated to ensuring the success of the tournament.

The PGA begins sending representatives like Oklahoma native and PGA Championship director Bryan Karns nearly two years in advance of the tournament to begin making preparations. That number swells to around twenty-five as the tournament draws closer. And that’s just the start. Vendor companies big and small and their staffs arrive ahead of time, too. Karns says there will be between 150 and 200 vendors for the tournament in May, including tenting, bleachers, power and generators, and much more. “It’s a lot like building a home,” Karns says.

“We’re proud to welcome the Senior PGA Championship to Monroe County this spring,” says Monroe County Executive Cheryl DiNolfo. “Events like this have a profound impact on our community—raising the profile of our world-class golf amenities, highlighting the vibrancy of our community, and injecting vital tourism dollars into our economy. I look forward to watching some of the finest golfers in the world compete at Monroe County’s own Oak Hill Country Club and opening our doors up to the thousands of visitors the Senior PGA Championship will bring.”

It turns out that a more finite figure can be placed on the value of the tournament to the community, and that figure is $44.5 million. That’s what the Greater Rochester Enterprise found in a study they did o

f the tournament’s economic impact on the area.

As GRE president Matt Hurlbutt notes, the report indicates the Rochester area isn’t just a great location for pro golf, it’s a good business and tourist environment, too. The economic impact of the Senior PGA isn’t nearly as much as a PGA Championship tournament, which Oak Hill Country Club is also hosting in 2023, but it’s considerable. GRE calculated the economic impact of the ninety-fifth PGA Championship at Oak Hill in 2013 at more than $100 million.

GRE expects area hotels and motels, the golfing industry, restaurants, transportation providers, construction and maintenance firms, real estate, security services, and retail to be the business industries that gain the most from the tournament.

“We’ve had a lot of success in mid-size markets like Rochester,” Karns says. It’s a little more intimate, which is great for the fans.  The players tend to be a littlemore engaging.”

Great stories surround the tournament and the players. Rochester’s own Jeff Sluman is in the field, as is Shaun Micheel, who won the 2003 PGA at Oak Hill.

 

Todd Etshman is a freelance writer living in Rochester.

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